One Way Ticket To Hell…And Back

The Darkness

Atlantic, 2005

REVIEW BY: Brian Birnbaum

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 08/02/2006

Some people view the day brothers Justin and Dan Hawkins teamed up with Frankie Poullain and Ed Graham as a detrimental day in rock history. The Darkness dared to bring back the dreaded glam rock genre -- and even popularize it again, at that.

Cut to Permission To Land, the band’s full-length debut. Proabably to the surprise of many, this record sold more than well, going over five times platinum. And to be honest with you avid and devoted readers, I actually enjoyed this album a bit. It makes me sick because I hate all that 80s hair metal trash, but this was something different, and it had pretty decent songwriting.

The problem with these fad bands (and that’s definitely what The Darkness are, and nothing more) is that most of them don’t realize they need to keep driving themselves to be innovative, new, and unique. You can’t just spew out the same old tired crap and expect to get much credit. Although not nearly as heavy an offender, The Strokes are in a similar boat. After their groundbreaking garage rock album bim_ad_daily_vault_print_250
Is This It, they haven’t come up with anything that fresh since. The Strokes don’t make bad music per se, but it isn’t going to win them any awards.

Well in The Darkness’ case, it is bad, and it’s bordering on the embarrassing. The song writing has drastically deteriorated. There are very few tunes on this record that leaves the listener wanting to hear more. Musically, it feels like the record drones on for an endless period of time, which is especially concerning considering this is only a 35-minute album.

Out of those 35 minutes, there are only two tunes that I genuinely enjoyed. “Is It Just Me” (in which the guitar riff sounds dangerously similar to “Givin’ The Dog A Bone” by AC/DC) provides a pounding hard rock riff alongside some rare decently-written lyrics from Justin Hawkins. “Bald” is easily the highlight of the album - there are actually some cool rhythm changes and it dares to break out of a painstakingly monotonous sound - but it comes just a little too late. This song swims like a gorgeous little fish that is cluttered by polluted water and nasty seaweed.

Had this been an instrumental album, I may have given it a higher rating. Justin Hawkins’ lyrics manage to be worse than his fake, wannabe falsetto vocals. At no point in time is this more evident than on “Knockers” (which should speak for itself), where Hawkins croons, “Oh Christ, I'm enticed / I want you in my sack / Your potty-mouthed and brassy / You're anything but classy.” Way to paint a picture for us, buddy. It doesn’t seem like he wanted to delve into any “deep” topics on this record, does it?

Not only does The Darkness manage to bring back those good ole glam rock days, but they also brought back the pop. Sweet, right? No, not at all. There’s a reason I can’t name one pop artist from the 80s, and that reason is most likely that I’m allergic to bullshit. On “Girlfriend,” the listener is treated to exactly that: bullshit, with sugar sprinkled on top. It’s a metaphor that should speak for itself.

When I picked this album up (regretfully), I really thought The Darkness could have done something positive here. They could have helped to revitalize a frowned-upon genre. Instead, all they have done is remind us of why the 80’s are gone. Don’t waste your time with this one.

Rating: D

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© 2006 Brian Birnbaum and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Atlantic, and is used for informational purposes only.